some reflections on the draft national land policy, 2016 by youjinbchung


Earlier this year, the Tanzanian government launched the review process for the National Land Policy (NLP), 1995. I have had the privilege of observing (from the backseat) the unfolding of this process, particularly the ways in which non-state actors were struggling for voice and space in civic engagement. Some of my colleagues have already provided some great insights on the draft NLP (see this, this, and this), but I want to share some of my raw reflections here.

1. Shady Statistics?  

Some of the statistics used in the draft NLP are questionable. On p. 24, it states: “About 80 percent of all villages in the country are surveyed". But elsewhere on p. 19, it says: “In general it is estimated that only 15 percent of land in Tanzania is surveyed”, and that "70 percent" of all land in the nation is village land. These statistics don’t add up.

Also, the '70% village land, 2% general land, 28% reserved land' thesis should be used with qualifications, especially given that these data are from two decades ago, and thus (probably) not reflective of the status quo. An unpublished 2012 report for the USAID states that the aim of the Tanzanian government is to transfer 17.9 percent of vilage land into the general land category (in how many years?) to allow for the commercial development in the Southern Agricultural Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT). The SAGCOT Centre highlights that its aim is to turn "350,000 hectares of land into profitable production"by 203o. With such increasing commercial pressures to transfer village land to general land, the extent of involuntary displacement and resettlement will become more ubiquitous.

This brings me to the issues of valuation, compensation, and resettlement.

2. Whose and What Kind of Value? 

'Land value' in the context of the NLP strictly refers to the market value of land. By extension, it refers to the market value of unexhausted improvements on the land, such as permanent dwellings, structures, and perennial crops like fruit trees. What is excluded are common property resources, such as non-commodified indigenous trees, forests, bushes, grasses, water, dams, ponds,meadows, pasture, and etc.

These common property resources provide essential material benefits for local users, as sources of food, fuel, fibre, building material, medicine. At the same time, they carry immeasurable cultural values and knowledges which are passed on intergenerationally. The draft NLP makes note of how the current policy falls short of meeting the 'international best practice' on involutary resettlement. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), for instance, in its 'Guidance Note 5: Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement', states that the loss of common property resources "has been identified as one of the primary impoverishment risks associated with involuntary resettlement and requires careful mitigation" (p. 7). Yet, it is unclear to me how the NLP aims to address this issue. The discussion of common property resources (and their multiple uses and values for rural communities) is critically wanting.

3. Waiting in Limbo for Compensation?

The draft NLP rightly acknowledges that, at present, there is no administative appeal mechanisms for those aggrieved with compensation, and that there are significant delays in compensation payments (p. 22). This is precisely the condition I've observed in Bagamoyo; there are many people who have been, and still are, waiting for compensation and displacement to make way for a large-scale agro-industrial project, an economic processing zone, a port, a tarmac road, an airport, etc. According to national land laws, people are entitled to be paid within 6 months of compensation valuation, and if it is delayed, they should be paid interest (6 percent per annum) until compensation is paid in full. However, what is significantly lacking in the current policy and laws is stipulations on the maximum waiting period. In other words, there is no statement, to my knowledge, that talks about for how long people are supposed to wait for compensation. According my interview with a Tanzanian legal scholar and professional who has written about the human right to compensation: "The only thing people can do, unfortunately, is to wait" (4 August 2016). Wait they shall, but for how long? And under what conditions?

This is a significant oversight in the draft NLP, because people are often prohibited from making long-term improvements on their land or face other land use restrictions after compensation valuation. At least this is what I have observed in Bagamoyo over the past few years. As one might expect, if compensation/displacement is delayed for a long time, people are likely to incur significant opportunity costs, economically, socially, culturally, politically, psychologically, and emotionally.

4. Delayed/Unpaid Compensation x Revocation of Title? 

It is in this context that I am puzzled by policy statement 4.6.3 Acquisition and Revocation of Rights of Occupancy. It states that the Tanzanian government will "ensure that revocation process is not initiated within first ten years of tenure for non-development of land". How and in what ways did the ten-year grace period come about? What are its social implications?

What if, for instance, the acquirer of the land (whether domestic or foreign) has received the Certificate of Title; has 'valued' the local populations and their property; has promised them compensation within six months; but failed to obtain the necessary funds to develop the land and failed to pay compensation for over ten years; and for all those years, restricted the local people from making long-term improvements on their land? Where does the liability of compensation payment fall? The government that is the ultimate landlord/custodian of all land the country? The private individual or company that acquired the land? What are the modes and mechanisms of redress for the people who have had to wait indefinitely for compensation payments?

As I write this, I am reminded of a young man, who asked me in one inteview: "Imagine. If we take away your pen and paper now, what will you do? What if we take them away from you indefinitely?" (20 September 2016). This thought is anxiety-inducing to say the least for researchers like me, for whom the pen is indispensable for my livelihood. It's hard to imagine how farmers are expected to live with so many restrictions on their land, that is, their livelihood, with no end in sight.

5. Tackling 'Unplanned Urban Settlements'?

In the draft NLP, resettlement is often mentioned in reference to "Unplanned Urban Settlements" (Sections 2.19 and 4.19). I wonder: is this because those who are displaced and resettled from rural areas are expected to settle in urban fringes? Whatever the reasoning behind this may be, the draft policy seems to believe that the solution to the problem of informal settlements is to have more planned and orderly urban planning processes. This is needed eventually of course, but the policy eclipses a more fundamental issue: the structural causes of rural-urban migration and the (re)production of 'planet of slums'.

In my research, I have interviewed scores of migrants, who have left their natal villages in Tanzania's interior (as far as Kigoma and Kagera) to Dar es Salaam and then back to rural Bagamoyo. The primary reason? Because they failed to eke out a living in the city; they could not get a job, most of them being Standard 7 leavers, or with no education at all. In Dar, they lived in urban slums, such as Manzese, Mwananyamala, Mbagala, and Tandika--all of which would fall under what the draft NLP calls 'Unplanned Urban Settlements'. Many have left their natal villages in the first place due to lack of land--arising from increased land concentration and land grabbing by urban elites, investors, and even national parks. Yet, after having experienced abject poverty in the city, they ended up in rural Bagamoyo, through words of mouth, only to be faced with insecurity of tenure and the threat of (imminent) displacement due to a large-scale sugarcane project. Without tackling these structural issues first and foremost, planned settlements will soon again morph into a mosaic of ghettos.

6. Commodifying 'Land Rights Under Water Bodies'? 

To me Sections 2.26 and 4.26 are the least thought out. The drafters of the policy were concerned about lack of legal procedures for allocating and administrating "land rights under water bodies" for emerging activities like cage fishing, fish farms, floating hotels, jetties (p. 32 and 55). This raises the specter of water/blue grabbing, which is inextricably tied to land grabbing. The negative environmental and social impacts of the Blue Revolution and other water/land-based extractive activities are not at all raised in the draft NLP. The Sections on Environment (2.27 and 4.27) are thin and frankly, disappointing. When the NLP states that water resources remain underutilized, it ignores the fact that many rural people depend on rivers, ponds, streams, and other water sources for drinking water,  washing clothes, bathing, fishing, collecting clay for making cooking utensils, and etc.

Without adequate regulations in place for high-density aquaculture like fish farms and cage fishing, how can land rights under public water bodies be effectively allocated and administered? Data is relatively scanty in my knowledge, but commercial aquaculture (depending on species) will likely have environmental impacts that are similar to those of intensive animal husbandry. Most evident is the accumulation of waste (feces and unconsumed feed), which may lead to eutrophication, and the associated depletion of oxygen and the proliferation of toxic algae. Combined with the use of pesticides and antibiotics required of large-scale, high-density fish farming, the local marine biodiversity will be adversely affected, and could possibly introduce some invasive carnivorous species. [If you haven't watched Darwin's Nightmare, I highly recommend you watch it]. And as it is in all food production value chains, post-harvest activities in aquaculture will also lead to further greenhouse gas emissions. Just like commercial agriculture, commercial aquaculture will be promoted for their 'job-creating' effects, but the questions we need to keep asking is: Jobs for whom and under what conditions?

7. Adding Women And Not Even Stirring? 

In the foreword, the Minister writes that one of the objectives of the policy is to ensure equitable access to land for all Tanzania "irrespective of gender or ethnicity" (p. 6). Why just gender or ethnicity? These are not standalone categories or separated realms of experience. Nor are gender and ethnicity isolated from other axes of power, such as class, race, age, marital status, (dis)ability, and etc. These categories are hatched together; and together they shape the complex identities and subjectivities that mediate the terms of land access, use, and control.

Section 2.28 sadly refers to women as a homogeneous group, and later talks about two sub-categories of women: widows and those "experiencing hardship and poverty". What about single women and mothers--unwed, separated, divorced, widowed, or raped--and their idiosyncratic challenges in land access, use, and control? And what about the plight of poor rural men vis-a-vis rich urban women?

Section 5.2.1 is slightly more satisfying, where the following statement appears: "Both women and men experience gender based insecurity of land tenure depending on ethnicity, rural or urban, education attainment, poverty status, age, tribe, and knowledge of the legal system". How intersectionality mediates (and complicates) access to/control over resources must come more front and centre, so as to avoid the pitfall of reducing the 'gender issue' in land tenure to merely an issue of 'women's access to land'.

Lastly, while gender is highlighted as a cross-cutting issue, more work needs to be done to demonstrate how and it what ways it crosscuts with other policy issues. I want to talk about one issue in particular: the gender dimensions of compensation valuation. In my study, I have found that when it comes to valuation, those who were registered by government valuers were essentially all men, as they are perceived to be the 'heads of households' and/or the de facto owners of land. Of course there were exceptions, such as widows, divorcées, and other 'women without men', who were responsible for finding food and caring for their families. This male-bias occurred even when the Chief Valuer and authorized land valuers are/were women. Promoting 'equal representation of both women and men in land administration' may balance the gender ratio in the workforce, but that won't necessarily transform patriarchal bureaucratic practices.


a glimpse into uchaguzi mkuu 2015 by youjinbchung


I'm obviously not a political commentator nor a political scientist, but here are just some of my impressionistic observations... Since the day I arrived in Dar in early September, the atmosphere here has been tense, yet somewhat buoyant with hope. From school children to shop keepers to bajaji and taxi drivers to my key informants for my research, everyone seemed passionate talking about the future of their country, although I did get a sense of growing fatigue in the last few days leading up to the elections.

The 2015 general election is deemed important - commentators argue - because for the first time since the independence of Tanganyika in 1961, the ruling party, CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi), is competing against a formidable coalition of four main opposition parties, named UKAWA (Umoka wa Katiba ya Wananchi). It has significance for my research, because I get a sense that the fate of major development projects which are currently planned/stalled in Bagamoyo (e.g. agricultural, port, EPZ, etc.) will very much be determined by the election outcome.

Over the past few days, I have received many emails and messages that sketch out various doomsday scenarios, and others that provide a long checklist of things to do/don't do/stock up on before the election weekend. Indeed, it was pure madness at the grocery store yesterday. People swarmed all over the till not only to pay for stuff, but also to claim trolleys and baskets. There was no bottled water left at the shop; there were just a few bread loaves left at the bakery; toilet rolls were selling like hotcakes; and I had to go to four different shops to buy voucher for my mobile phone/internet. A retired professor from the University of Dar es Salaam, with whom I became quite close, said it was the first time ever that she and her husband decided to get away from Dar during election time for safety concerns...

FYI, just so you get a sense of the mood here, this is what someone posted on a Facebook group page the other day.


1. FOOD: Stock up on food and water (at least 1 week's supply) in case Markets and stores are not open or you can't go out. Prioritize non-perishable/dry food like those stored in cans over fresh food that takes time to cook and requires freezing (in case the power in your area is cut off).

Don't forget about cooking Gas!

2. FUEL: Stock up on enough fuel for your generator in case there is no electricity. Also make sure there is a full-tank of fuel in all of your vehicles.

*Note* Do not over stock fuel!!

3. CASH: Make sure you withdraw enough cash to keep in-hand in case there’s no working ATM near you so you have 1 less reason to go outside your house.

4. RALLIES: Stay away from Political Rallies, Gatherings and Protests as much as possible. If you must attend then be vigilant. Wait till you get to safety before updating your Social Media.

5. HOME: In the case of civil unrest, keep yourself and your family indoors at all times and keep your homes locked down. Ensure that all windows and doors are secure.

6. VEHICLES: Park your vehicles in secure areas, preferably within the walls of your compound and well away from the main roads.

7. CONTACTS: Remember emergency numbers and the numbers for the Medical Emergency Services and Fire Services. Notify them in the event of any emergency (Note: Please do not post tweets and ask that others RT till it gets to the authorities, in the time it takes a tweet to circulate life could be lost or assets damaged).

8. MOVEMENT: Know at least 2 routes to your office and back to your home. You can confirm the safety of routes via updates and reports on social media.

9. FAMILY: Make sure all your family members (especially those living with you) know the numbers to call in case of any emergency. Discuss with them about what to do in case of an emergency or in case you get separated for any reason.

10. EQUIPMENTS & NECESSITIES: Ensure you stock up on equipment such as flashlights, batteries, candles, medical supplies (e.g. First Aid Boxes), recharge cards (or add sufficient credit to your phone), etc.

11. MORE TIPS: Don't keep late nights. Make sure you tell your family exactly where you are going to, anywhere you are be alert. Pick every call because the person might want to tell you what will save your lifeEat or drink only at trusted peoples house. Pray before you enter a bus and be sensitive even when in it. Don't be a political thug once you sense fight is about to start, pick your things and run. Don't get involved inn student protest (at least for now). Night parties are extremely dangerous for now

12. CONCLUSION: In addition to these tips, remember that no need for any unnecessary movement on Election Day . You can expect anything, even Rallies leading up to the Elections so stay tuned Social Media pages for news and information about the dates, times and locations of rallies so you can plan ahead.

On the other hand, here is what the British authorities have been giving out, ha!

1. PUT THE KETTLE ON Sit down and have a nice cup of tea. Remember, put the milk in first. Flick through an old copy of Good Housekeeping or Country Life - the world will feel better afterwards.

2. EMERGENCY SUPPLIES Dads, don't forget to stock up on Hamlet cigars, you'll want to look the part if things go tits up. Mums, it's gin. Make sure you have downloaded at least three episodes of The Archers omnibus podcast.

3. THE GOLDEN RULE If it all starts to resemble the dining room scene in Carry On Up The Khyber, just remember: Keep Calm And Carry On.

In the past month and a half, I probably met/rode with over 40 bajaji drivers and dozens of taxi drivers. The overwhelming majority of bajaji drivers (i.e. young men) were keen to vote for Edward Lowassa, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, CHADEMA (Chama Cha Demokrasia Na Maendeleo). There was only one guy, who said he was going to vote for CCM; he even gave me an extra CCM poster to hang on my wall...! There was another driver who clearly seemed like he belonged to CCM; he was wearing a CCM cap, a CCM t-shirt, and matching green track pants. What I found amusing was that he wasn't even going to vote for CCM; the clothes were given out for free at some rally. My impression from talking to many young bajaji drivers over the past seven weeks is that they don't always have a clear rationale on why they want Lowassa to be the next president of Tanzania (Union). Most of them referred to how they wanted change, and by change, they seemed to want something simply other than CCM. Many referred to how CCM has been reigning for too long (56 years), but seldom did they speak in depth about the presidential candidates themselves - their biography, competency, experience, campaign promise, etc. The taxi drivers on the other hand (who are generally older than bajaji drivers), seemed to either want to vote for CCM at any cost; vote for Magufuli despite themselves not being part of CCM (because they can't afford to see Lowassa win); or to not vote at all. I had very limited interaction with Tanzanian women (of all age groups) in Dar, which makes me quite curious as to for whom they will cast a vote and why.

On the day of the general election, I followed my housemate, Mkunde, to a school in Mikocheni A. We arrived an hour before the polls opened, but there was already a long queue. I was quite impressed. There were maybe 4-5 soldiers on duty, but with no weapons in sight. Voters had to find their names on the rosters and line up at the place where they saw them. Most people who showed up early were men. The bajaji driver who took us to the school said he was no. 2 at his poll; someone was holding his spot while he was making his ends meet. Most of the people that were in line were men. Mkunde was supposed to meet with two of her girl friends, but they showed up late, because they had to prepare chai for their children and take care of a few things in the house. As it drew closer to 7 am, more women showed up. Many in colourful kangas and kitenges -- I assumed many of these women would be heading to church afterwards. Elderly, disabled, and lactating women were given priority. There were some delays in setting up the booths (I think), and the first person went into cast his vote around 7.15 am. Mkunde was done by 8 am. By then, the queue had grown longer to an extent that I had to use a panorama mode on my phone to capture the scene. The early hours of election day was rather peaceful in my neighbourhood. I am hoping it will stay like this the next couple of days...

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset


A very brief history of the East African Coast by youjinbchung

The East African coast was in contact with civilisations of the Persian Gulf, India, and even China through trade across the Indian Ocean for at least two thousands years prior to 1500. As Jean-François Bayart argues, when considered in a view of history over the longue durée, Africa has never ceased to exchange both goods and ideas with the rest of the world. To this, one must add the exchange of human beings via slavery and the plantation system. Whereas West Africa came under direct European influence in the 1500s through the transatlantic slave trade that fuelled mercantile capitalism, East Africa, particularly the coast, first became commercially important to Arab traders around 1200 for its strategic position between the Middle East and the ports of present-day Mozambique, which exported the gold of Rhodesia. The Portuguese took control of the East African coast in the 1500s, but they were eventually wiped out by the end of the next century due to rising local insurrections and the seizure of Kilwa – a small island off the coast of present-day Tanzania – by mariners and mercenaries from Oman in the Arabian Peninsula.

Oldest map of Bagamoyo from 1870


In the 1770s, Kilwa exported ivory, slaves, hippo-teeth, tortoise-shell, cowries, wax, gum, and indigo, and imported textiles (from India), arms, and ammunition. Kilwa was abandoned in 1840, as the Sultan of Oman moved his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar. In the 1800s, Bagamoyo, a coastal town in present-day Tanzania and the closest mainland port to Zanzibar, flourished as the main terminus for ivory and slave caravans coming from the interior. The name Bagamoyo (bwaga meaning “to throw down/ to let fall” and moyo meaning “heart”) originally connoted a place where the caravanserai could rest their bodies and minds after travelling long distances. On the other hand, it meant a place a despair for slaves: a place where they lost all hope for life as they awaited their onward journey to Zanzibar. The caravan porters were financed by Arab traders, and they were mostly Nyamwezi people of the central plateau (Central Zone of present-day Tanzania). According to Frederick Cooper, Abdul Sheriff and other historians, about 20,000 slaves were shipped to Zanzibar from Bagamoyo per year by the 1860s. In contrast to the strong male bias of the transatlantic slave trade, female slaves accounted for over 50 percent of all slave exports from East Africa. In addition to being sold to French sugar plantations in Mauritius and the Réunion Islands, female slaves were forced into domestic servitude, concubinage, and agricultural labour on Arab clove plantations in Zanzibar and on sugar plantations on the Pangani river basin. 

By the 1880s, Europeans were closing in for the control of East Africa. And it was under European colonialism that the region, for the first time, became fully, forcibly, and on highly unequal terms, integrated into the capitalist world-economy. Germany was not a major colonial power at the time, but with the fear of being excluded by France and Britain from trade with West Africa, Bismarck convened a conference of the European Powers in 1884 to lay down their ‘spheres of influence’ in Africa. In 1885, Germany claimed German East Africa – the territories encompassing present-day Burundi, Rwanda, and mainland Tanzania. The seizure of German East Africa was based on twelve treaties a German explorer and founder of the Society for German Colonisation, Karl Peters, had signed with local chiefs, who had supposedly ceded their territories and rights to the Society. Once the Germans arrived on the continent, however, they had to adopt military warfare in order to crush the powers of dominant classes in the territory, including slave-owning landlords, chiefs, kings, and merchants. It is estimated that over 80 wars of resistance were fought on the local terrain against the Germans up until early twentieth century.

In 1891, Germans started building a railroad from the coast to the northeast (from Tanga to Moshi). Land was confiscated from local populations, and the most fertile lands were opened up for white settlement and plantation agriculture. As soon as the territories were acquired, the German (and later the British) colonial government imposed hut taxes upon Africans to increase revenue for the metropole’s treasury. The economy of German East Africa became increasingly centred on large-scale agriculture. There was also mining of gold, mica, diamonds, and other minerals, but it never replaced agriculture as the major source of export and wage employment. By 1910, sisal had become the most important export crop, followed by cotton. However, much of the early attempts to compel African peasants to grow cotton had failed or resulted in major bloodshed. Particularly brutal was the Maji Maji Rebellion of 1905-1907, which historian John Iliffe called an “explosion of African hatred of European rule”. African peasants not only showed resistance through physical force, but also through everyday practices and knowledges, like deliberately preventing cotton from germinating by boiling its seeds.

Despite their resistance, subsistence in the countryside became increasingly dictated by the cash nexus. The need to pay taxes in cash instigated an exodus of men from the countryside for wage employment in plantations and mines. Male labour migration became a cornerstone of the political economy of colonial Africa. In addition, feminist scholars such as Deborah Bryceson and Marjorie Mbilinyi argue that the imposition of hut taxes was a mechanism through which European powers instilled the ideology of the modern, nuclear family upon Africans. Men, as the assumed heads of households, were held responsible for earning wages to pay taxes; on the other hand, women were forced to remain in the countryside fulfilling stringent minimum acreage requirements and caring for their families.

Tanganyika Territory became part of the British Empire in 1920, and it officially became a British League of Nations Mandate by 1922...

Bagamoyo c. 19th century

Bagamoyo c. 21st century